Here it comes.
The T.O. tsunami.
The story almost writes itself.
There are certain things that are politically risky for a sportswriter or pundit to do. Challenge the strategy of Tony Dungy. Question the motives of LaDainian Tomlinson. That's stepping out on the ledge. But criticizing Owens is not one of these things. It's extremely easy to express disdain -- fake or real -- concerning Owens. It's not hard at all and requires almost no risk to do so.
After losses, I try not to watch much of ESPN because I know what's going to happen. I know that it's feast or famine. When we win there's hesitant and faint praise, but when we lose the criticism is harsh and unrelenting. Tom Jackson is almost always the harshest critic. Skip Brainless will no doubt offer his "I told you so" analysis along with a shocking and equally implausible theory -- perhaps Owens is trying to sabotage the season because he's become jealous of Romo's popularity. He'll offer no evidence, of course. Just a weightless theory he's paid handsomely to espouse. Keyshawn Johnson will join in on the chorus as will Cris Carter. The best thing about having Michael Irvin on ESPN was that there was somebody there who would stick up for Owens occasionally. He would also stick up for the Cowboys consistently. We saw what happened to him.
But my main point is still the same. This is a non-risk. Who hasn't criticized Owens? What risk is involved in criticizing him? Why should I respect this cowardice? Do you want to come out against World War II as well? Are you against the Dow Jones nosediving as well? Is this really the type of pack journalism that we deserve?
Of course, I'm not absolving Owens from his comments. Poor choice of words, IMO. Poor timing as well. Like Grizz said "STFU." Now and forever. Thank your lucky stars that Jerry Jones saved your career and gave you a chance to rehabilitate your image. Thank your lucky stars that you happened to meet a young, amicable, easy-going QB by the name of Tony Romo, who actually didn't brush you off but embraced you.
But, you know what, this comes with the package. I knew it. We all knew it. Owens is an emotional, brutally-honest, yet sensitive soul. He's going to say inappropriate things. Always. It's actually a miracle he's stopped putting his foot in his mouth as much as he used to. It's like having Allen Iverson on your team. Do you want the 30 points a game or not? Do you want the double-digit touchdowns a season or not? I do. I'll take it. It's annoying at times but guess what. Mild-mannered, respectful, humble receivers are a dime a dozen. I don't want them. I want the game-changer. Owens is that. But he comes with preconditions. Well-known preconditions.
But if the fans know that, doesn't the media? Of course they do. That's not the point. The point is it's a safe play. A story that's already been written. "T.O. causes trouble again." I could write that story blindfolded. "Owens says blah blah to blankety blank according to unidentified team sources." How much talent does it take to write that? And guess what. It feeds the beast and keeps the story going. Next thing you know major pundits from each sports network are weighing in. Then syndicated columnists from major dailies. Next comes sports columnists from smaller dailies each searching for slightly adjusted takes on the same story. T.O. back to his old tricks again. T.O. trying to sink team chemistry. Cowboys take chance on T.O. and it may be backfiring. It's like a similar guitar riff handed down from college jam band to college jam band until everyone is playing it.
I'm not asking for people to ignore Owens. I know he's a big story. I know he drives coverage. I'm not even asking people to ignore Owens when he makes dumb comments. That's fine. But it doesn't deserve a column by JJT or to be the focal point of a discussion after a major loss at home. It doesn't deserve to be hyped as one of the lead-in stories on ESPN. This is a story that has been written over and over and over again. There's nothing new here. He always complains when he doesn't get the ball. Always. Particularly when we don't win. Shoot he complains when he does get the ball. I know this. So I know you do.
Secondly, spare me the fake outrage. Who are you outraged for? Our team? Most of the media I've seen hates our team and this was long before T.O. became a part of it. Do you feel for Tony Romo? The same Romo you questioned as an unknown before last year and now call a choke-artist? I don't buy it. What about Wade Phillips? The same coach you call a lame duck and state brazenly has one year left to go before he's jettisoned? That's the biggest crock of $#-! I've heard in a while. Who's left? The fans? Let's be real. You could give a darn about the fans and particularly Cowboys fans. So exactly who are you outraged for? Please elaborate. I'd like names.
I guess I'm just tired of the worn-out narrative. Believe me, I'm always tired of Owens falling into this trap by giving them material to run with. Dude. Learn your lesson. You got the money, the fame and the top spot in our offense. Shut yer yap. But at the same time, I'm more frustrated in this half-a$$ed, faux-outrage that I have to deal with every week after a Cowboy loss. I shouldn't have to deal with it. I'm a pretty darn good consumer of sports news. I watch ESPN, Fox Sports and the overpriced NFL Network like my life depends on it. I rack up hits on ESPN.com, NFL.com, CNNsi.com, FOXSports.com and Profootballtalk.com everyday just to name a few sports websites. I scour newspapers for the latest sports news. I deserve more than this recycled story that will probably be played out week-to-week for the entire year and the rest of Owens' career. I deserve some actual work and actual analysis. And I'm usually not the guy to start spewing about what fans deserve because most times I feel like the only thing we deserve is an entertaining show and a team that attempts to win. But this is one thing I feel strongly about. I deserve more than this tired re-run. Repackage it and sell it to me another way. Cause this charade is stale.